The famous case of the 'evil' crying boys paintings

The painting that is rumoured to be haunted or cursed. Anyone that hangs one in their house is under threat of a fire at the hands of the painting. Is there truth to this story or is it all a myth?
Sarah Chumacero
30th April 2017.
Famous Paranormal Cases.
1831 page views.

Anyone with an interest in the paranormal has probably in some way heard of the crying boys paintings. Like all ‘haunted objects’ these series of paintings were rumoured to be cursed. So how did this start and is there an explanation to it all?

In 1985 a hysteria started to roll through London. Strange fires would burn down houses and when fire fighters got to the scene to put the fires out, all remains were a smouldering mess. The houses all had one thing in common. Within this smouldering mess, one item seemed to remain intact. A painting of a crying boy. Where did these paintings comes from? Were they causing the fires? Why did they survive?

The ‘Crying Boys’ is a series of paintings that were created by painter Bruno Amadio. The paintings were made for tourists in Venice and represented all of the children that were orphaned during World War 2. There were rumoured to be around 65 different versions of the crying boy painting (including a crying girl). A few of these prints were picked up by London for mass production and around 50,000 copies were sold at a cheap price at local supermarkets and department stores.

On September 4th 1985, The Star newspaper ran a story on a series of fires that had destroyed homes and the only thing that remained was a copy of this painting. Fireman Peter Hall who was related to one of the victims claimed that he had seen at least 50 copies survived in various fires and he was too scared to put a copy of the picture in his home. An urban legend was born….. You see you didn’t need the original painting to be cursed. Any old copy of the painting was cursed.

As people began to read the article and listen to the many stories of people losing everything in a fire (except a crying boy painting), people began to panic. They tried burning their very own painting. The only problem was, it did not ignite. You see the paintings were made of a special compressed board which basically made it hard to burn. Any logical person would realise this completely debunks the myth. No this just fed the panic. The paintings were cursed and some unknown force meant the painting could not be destroyed, so people began giving them away or selling them in garage sales. It was thought by giving it away you have rid yourself of the curse. Another popular method was to hand a picture of a crying girl next to the boy. This seemed to work as well. As the media coverage continued, more people came forward with their stories and more tales were added to the myth and reported by the newspaper.

The myth was that the painter Franchot Seville (which is a known pseudonym of Bruno Amadio), painted a picture of a wondering boy. Some stories say he even adopted this boy who was a mute orphan. He was orphaned as he watched his parents die in a house fire. A priest identified this boy as Don Bonillo. Wherever he went there was trouble and more suspiciously fire. He was nicknamed ‘Diablo’. Seville returned one day to find his studio had burned to the ground. He was financially ruined and he accused the boy of setting the fire and he ran away supposedly innocent. He wasn’t heard from again until 1976 where there was a car accident outside of Barcelona. A car exploded in flames and the only thing that survived was a driver’s license with the name of Don Bonillo. The paintings became forever cursed. No source I have found has been able to prove the existence of Don Bonillo. Even the researcher who claimed to have stumbled onto this story, also seems to be untraceable. Isn’t that strange?

Is this spirit of Don Bonillo haunting all copies of this painting?

There was only one solution to end the curse. It was the ‘The Star’ newspaper to the rescue. The very newspaper responsible for creating this hysteria and who seemingly uncovered the myth. Send them your ‘cursed’ painting and they will complete a mass burn forever ridding the world of this curse. So people did. They did a mass burn (which apparently took a really long time because well the paintings don’t burn easy) and the world could sleep again at night. Or could they?

A lot of people around the world still believe in this curse. You only have to search online and you can find pages and forums dedicated to the crying boy paintings. They all seem to have a relative that was a victim of the curse and when they were younger they ‘never liked’ the painting. It has also come as a collectors item for some. There are some people who even modify the paintings. A couple of examples are replacing the eyes of the paintings for LED lights, you know because it must be demonic. My favourite is the person that made his picture cry ‘real tears’. I think I might have to get one of these just because why not!

So what do you think? Do you think the crying boy paintings are really cursed? Or is it a publicity stunt by a newspaper? I think you know where I stand on this one!

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